The Louise Lincoln Kerr House and Studio is a building owned and maintained by Arizona State University in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was originally Louise Lincoln Kerr’s home, which was bequeathed to the university after her death in 1977. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Who is Louise Lincoln Kerr? 

In 1892, Louise Lincoln was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Louise Lincoln was born and raised in Cleveland, where she graduated from high school. Her mother taught her how to play the piano and the viola, which she had started learning at the age of seven, and studied music composition with two influential Columbia University professors. She enrolled at Barnard College in New York City in 1910. 

In 1913, she returned to Cleveland to join the Cleveland Orchestra as a violinist. She married Peter Kjer in 1936 and had eight children, changing her surname to Kerr. 

Since one of them had a respiratory problem, the family relocated to Phoenix in 1936. She purchased 47 acres in Scottsdale along Lincoln Drive, which was named after her father.

Louise returned to composing music three years after Peter’s death. She was also a supporter of local artistic organizations such as the Phoenix Symphony and the ASU School of Music. Other musical groups, such as the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and the National Society of Arts and Letters, meet at her home. Before the Scottsdale Center for the Arts opened in 1975, the Kerr studio was Scottsdale’s premier music venue.

Arizona State University Ownership

Kerr died on December 10, 1977, and the land was given to Arizona State University’s College of Fine Arts, now the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and ownership of the center moved from the College of Fine Arts to Gammage Memorial Auditorium in 1981. Additional site upgrades, such as a lighted parking area, new furnace and air conditioning systems for the building, and code enforcement work, were also part of the transfer. In 1988, further modifications were made, including re-roofing the studio and restoring the walls.

Building Design

In 1948, the five-room house was built. It is composed of adobe that was made and built on the property in a Spanish Colonial style. A plain ramada can be found on the north end of the east wall, and a wooden staircase can be found on the southeast corner of the tower, leading to the flat roof. Tucson artist Charles Bolsius, a neighbor of Kerr’s, carved the entrance doors out of sugar pine. Simple square windows with brick window sills and oversized wooden lintels. 

To the north of the building, a studio was built in 1959, followed by a west-end extension in 1969. The studio is enclosed by a low-pitched roof that flattens out more to cover the patios on the west and east sides, and is made of the same natural adobe bricks as the home.

The Marshall Gallery 2

By Dru Bloomfield – https://www.flickr.com/photos/athomeinscottsdale/3836187025/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=95427764

There are uncovered rafters and a brick chimney in one corner of the studio. Architect Fred Fleenor completed the 1969 renovation, which included built-in seating for 100 people, better ventilation, and kitchen and toilet facilities; particular attention was paid to make this addition blend in with the rest of the structure.  

The floor tiles, which are made of a combination of cement and white marble dust, are very scarce today. Several cottages on the property were dubbed “The Shacks,” and visitors such as Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern, and the Budapest String Quartet lived there. Between Kerr’s death in 1977 and the building of the Marriott Renaissance Scottsdale resort in 1979/1980, they were removed.

Present Use 

It is now known as The Kerr Cultural Center and is still in operation, in part because of its intimate atmosphere and in part because it is widely regarded as Phoenix’s best chamber music venue. Musical events, as well as informal gatherings and private parties, are held there.

Scottsdale, Arizona is full of amazing historical landmarks that help to make our city an amazing, culturally rich city:

  • Scottsdale Grammar School, also called The Little Red Schoolhouse
  • Louise Lincoln Kerr House
  • McCormick Stillman Railroad Park
  • The Valley Field Riding and Polo Club of Scottsdale
  • Roald Amundsen Pullman Private Railroad Car
  • Historic Taliesin West
  • Old Town Scottsdale
  • Main Street Arts District

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 7106 East Main Street! Stop by for a visit anytime!